New project: In Protest of Purebred Dog Deformity

art, bookmaking

In the past few days I’ve started a new project. At this point it’s just a series of sketches, but eventually they’ll culminate in an artist book about the troubling state of purebred dogs.

Anyone who’s looked at my art can probably tell that I have an interest in anatomy and biology–I’ve done everything from linocuts of animal skeletons to embroidered portraits of human cadavers. A few years ago I took an interest in the evolution of purebred dogs, and after doing some rudimentary research I found the state of things pretty disturbing.

For decades breeders of purebred dogs have put unreasonable physical ideals ahead of common sense, inbreeding animals to the point of serious deformity in an attempt to correct physical ‘flaws’ that they more or less invented.

Definition of EUGENICS

: a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed.
Sound familiar?
In doing so they’ve created animals unable to breed or give birth without assistance, unable to breathe without difficulty, and often unable to regulate their own body temperature. These dogs exhibit serious genetic illnesses as a result of severe inbreeding, but breeders continue to breed them, spreading those illnesses to future generations seemingly without regard for the welfare of the breeds they claim to sponsor.

The change in the shape of of a bulldog’s skull over 50 years. Image courtesy of the Natural History Museum, Bern.

This isn’t an isolated situation–a quick Google search will show that most breeds are plagued by hereditary illnesses caused at least in part by irresponsible breeding. I won’t speak for all kennel clubs, but a lot of them don’t have many restrictions or regulations about breeding healthy dogs–the breeders don’t look for overall fitness of the breed, they look to fulfill their own physical standards (which are as inexplicably specific as they are ridiculous).

I won’t pretend to be an expert on this subject–far from it. These are conclusions I’ve reached after doing some basic research and after comparing photos and paintings of dogs 100 years ago with the same breeds today (spoiler alert: they looked pretty damn different back in the day). All I know is that things aren’t right in the purebred dog world, and I’m going to make some art about it.

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